Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Decline of the Angry Left

An insightful article by my friend Dan Gerstein about the decline of the Kossacks:
Indeed, at the exact moment their party leaders were loudly replaying the psychodramas of the 1990s (and to some extent the '60s), voters of both races were quietly resolving the pre-eminent conflict of the party's present -- between the politics of hope and the politics of Kos. (That being the Daily Kos, the nation's most influential liberal blog and the left's poster child for partisan pugnacity.)

This conflict is not about ideology but about style...

The Kossacks and their activist allies -- who skew toward the Boomers -- believe that Republicans are venal bordering on evil, and that the way Democrats will win elections and hold power is to one-up Karl Rove's divisive, bare-knuckled tactics. Their opponents within the party -- who skew younger and freer of culture war wounds -- believe that the way to win is offer voters a break from this poisonous tribal warfare and a compelling, inclusive vision for where we want to take the country...

In this, you might say that Mr. Obama did not kill Kos-ism so much as co-opt it -- by harnessing its most powerful forces and channeling it in a more constructive, convincing direction for a new political moment. He recognized early on that the primary electorate was changing in the wake of Mr. Bush's departure, and that it was hungry (post-Boomer voters in particular) for something bigger and better than the same polarization wrapped in a blue ribbon.

The signs of change are unmistakable. Over the last year, the Kossacks themselves seemed to be waning -- the number of monthly page views on the site is down dramatically.

Moreover, in the last few weeks they and their avatars have been flocking to the great reconciler. First Ned Lamont endorsed Mr. Obama, a mentee of Mr. Lieberman in the Senate. Then on Wednesday, in the first Daily Kos straw poll after Mr. Edwards left the race, Mr. Obama beat Mrs. Clinton by 76%-11% (a result inflated by the Netroots' unbreakable contempt for Hillary). Just yesterday, MoveOn.org gave its formal blessing to the "post-partisan" candidate.

The best evidence that Kos-ism is about kaput, though, comes from Kos's mouth himself. Yes, the most delicious irony of this campaign is that the supposed hatemonger is supporting the hopemonger.

Seeing the writing on the wall, as well as on his own blog, Markos Moulitsas -- Kos himself -- rejected the candidacy he himself helped spawn and announced (albeit grudgingly) on Dec. 12 that he would be voting for Mr. Obama via "a process of elimination."

Not exactly the most graceful concession, but the import is undeniable: Hope trumped Kos for Democrats. Now let's see what it will do for the rest of the country.


Decline of the Angry Left

February 2, 2008; Page A11

Last Saturday's South Carolina Democratic primary will probably be remembered as the day when the party's emotional dam burst and many of the personal grievances and tensions that have built up over the past generation spilled out into the open -- unleashing a cascading series of freighted squabbles starring a who's who of post-Reagan Democrats (Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, John Kerry and of course Bill Clinton).


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